The amazing value of a free giveaway

by Kevin

in Marketing,online marketing

A lot of people are asking why I’m giving away downloads of my book for free, even though it’s on sale at Amazon.

Good question. Let me explain…

Giving away something of value for free is a common model for generating targeted leads, but a lot of people goof it up.

That’s usually because they’re focused on what they want from the lead, and not about providing over-the-top value in the free giveaway.

What’s interesting about this particular process – using an actual book as the lead generator – is that it is the opposite of how most people would think about selling their book.

The majority of authors will write a book with dreams of seeing their book on the shelf at Barnes & Noble with it’s perfect, shiny cover, right there next to other famous books. They’ll sit incognito at the cafe and watch to see if anyone picks it up and study their face for a reaction. And that’s where it ends for most of them. Just like anything else in the world, no marketing = no business. And very few authors learn to think like marketers.

koi tattooEver notice how many books are on the discount rack? And you’re like “Damn, only $4.99 for this big beautiful picture book?”

That’s because nobody gives a damn about “The History of The Koi Fish”. Except for people who own Koi fish.

But for some strange reason those books end up at the bookstore just hoping Koi fish enthusiasts will wander in. But Koi fish owners (and all enthusiasts of everything worth enthusing over) have a new tool for finding books and articles about Koi fish these days… So they go online and get the info they need, probably for free, and maybe buy a book that looks good from Amazon. And if they’re really impressed, perhaps even join the Koi Fish Community (KFC… It’s algae licking good!)

People who love Koi fish, really love Koi fish, but there’s no longer a need to get in the car and drive to the big chain bookstore to get the info. I’m going to miss bookstores as much as anyone (and support the locals best I can) but as a society, we’re no longer willing to deal with, well… society… when we’re seeking out special knowledge about the stuff we love.

I mean, why get in the car and venture out into the scary ol’ world, risk some jerk face stealing the best parking spot out from under you and overpay for a cup of bad coffee on the thin hope that there’s a good book about your favorite subject? When it’s all right there waiting for you on the good ‘ol interwebs.

And so that’s where being an author about a passion subject (a niche subject) becomes about selling passion, rather than selling books.

The value of writing a book in a passion niche (and yes, selling is a passion niche – one of the biggest) is the authority it brings the author. Printing your name on the cover of a book still carries a lot of weight. It shows that you’re willing to step up and make your case as a leading expert on your subject.

Yet, in reality, the book’s true value is as a “lead magnet”. Think of it as welcome mat at the front door… a valuable giveaway to prove to other enthusiasts that you have something new and important to teach them.

If they like you and your material, they’ll use your tips, get results, spread the word and suddenly a society grows around you. You’re selling yourself as much as you are your expertise and advice. Because, as consumers of information, we only stick with the teachers we know, like and trust the most.

So, for the author of a book like mine, it’s all about delivering high value, creating a dialogue and building a community where you help everybody the best you can… knowing full well that only a minority (about 20%) are going to ever pay for your expertise. However they’ll pay you very good money to learn the deeper lessons that the other 80% don’t get.

And of that 20% who pay for the deeper knowledge, another 20% of them will become superfans and invest even more to join your “insiders club” …  as much as $10,000 to $25,000 per year. There are several that top $100,000 per year.

So, if you’ve ever wondered why someone would put great effort into writing a book, or putting together a high value report or even a video training and then just give it away for free… now you know. The real money is in the list, the dialogue you have with the people on your list, and the community that grows from it.

It’s tribe building at it’s best. You happily give “dream come true” service to 100% of the people, confident that you’ll do valuable business with the most enthusiastic 20% or less.

Simple math, radical thinking.

So, what could you give away that provides instant value to anyone who gets their hands on it? I bet lots of stuff, if you think about it.


Faliq March 31, 2014 at 10:56 am

Great post!

Just wondering, if you give your BEST thing fro FREE…

…then what’s left?



Kevin March 31, 2014 at 2:13 pm

Hi Faliq… it’s a fair question.

The answer sometimes requires a shift in mindset.

Think of your giveaway as the ultimate business card to pique interest in what you can do for a client. So, in my case, I’m best at helping business owners recreate their sales messages to be more engaging and higher converting. I also like to use their own stories to do the job.

So, while the 60-Second Sales Hook is only step one of the equation… I held nothing back in sharing it. It’s not a tease or an overview of why it works, the entire formula is right there for them to put into action and get results. I even help people tweak and polish their hooks when they email them to me.

So when I say “give them your best” it’s still only one piece, but it’s the whole piece, the best way you can give it.

So, when you know the full picture of what you can do to bring value to a client, it’ easy to give away a small piece all the way (and go over the top), knowing that whether they become paying clients or not, they will feel good about you and spread the word.

Does that clear it up some?


Pat March 31, 2014 at 11:18 am

Awe….yea your on the right track. You give your best stuff away; BUT you only give part of it. If they want all of it (and they will) they have to give you their best stuff (think email address) and all is fair in love and war!
Good day sunshine!

Kevin March 31, 2014 at 2:16 pm

Yes, Pat. But… and not to be a flowerchild about this… but “war” is not the mindset.

I dont’ see it as a battle of the wallets. If you have the goods, share the goods all out, and 20% will want the best.

Maybe it’s semantics, but it shows through.


Bill Jeffels March 31, 2014 at 11:25 am

Hey Kevin,

I think you make a great point.

If you give away a book or special report that’s loaded with valuable information you prove that you’re an expert in your field and your prospect instantly realizes there’s a lot more powerful information that he can learn from you.

Bill Jeffels

Kevin March 31, 2014 at 10:34 pm

You got it, Bill!

Mike Monroe March 31, 2014 at 11:52 am

THANK YOU for the “welcome mat” verbiage versus “tripwire” or even “ethical bribe!” What a lot of people (RE: Me) failed to realize? Is that intelligence is a commodity. The real value (USP) in a business relationship is the experience we give our customers, post-transaction. So business owners can give away their best intelligence. And still have PLENTY to offer on the experience side. I don’t evangelize teachers because of what they know, but because of the results they’ve helped me get.

Great article from a great guy who’s giving away GREAT INFORMATION!

Kevin March 31, 2014 at 10:36 pm

Mike, you’re a King among men.

Our interview was a blast, I’ll be following you closely.


Brenda March 31, 2014 at 12:40 pm

Hi Kevin,

It was a real pleasure and education working with you to develop my Hook. The added benefit being, getting a new title for my free report. (Actually, it was supposed to be a book but I’m excited to use it on a new landing page right away.)

I have no idea why every other marketer/coach is making this stuff so complicated.

Everything you’re doing around this project makes perfect sense. And although I can’t be one of the 20% right now it’s at the top of my bucket list for this year.

Thankyouthankyouthankyou –


Kevin March 31, 2014 at 10:38 pm

Hi Brenda… the pleasure was all mine.

Simple is always better.

Please give us a full report on your success.


David Franklin March 31, 2014 at 1:31 pm

There is something to be said however for a nominal cost. Such as what Frank Kern just recently did with his book where he asked that you pay the $5.60 postage (yes it’s a physical book so shipping makes sense where it would not in a download). By charging a small fee for a tripwire you get real buyers with credit cards in hand on your list.

Nick Brighton March 31, 2014 at 11:52 pm

Great post Kevin.

It made me think of those people who give out free cheese, wine or meat samples at the supermarket. They don’t give out crappy samples. They’re giving you their best stuff, for free.

It’s costing them money. But it’s winning them sales. Sales from people who want to use that wine, cheese or meat in several dishes, not just for one day, but an entire week or month.

I actually think the whole “freeline” marketing concept is massively underused in today’s business environment. How many businesses do you see that offer something extremely valuable for free, asking nothing immediately in return?

In my experience, it is few.

And hey, maybe that’s a great opportunity for “offline marketers” and biz consultants to explore; implementing a “freebie” campaign to win more clients for local biz owners???

In your example, however, I think your book adds credibility Kevin. That’s a secondary benefit to actually helping people and PROVING your salt.

Just the mere passing mention of being a published, best-selling author in your field of expertise will carry even more clout than the track record you keep.

Kudos :)

Kevin April 1, 2014 at 7:12 pm

Hey Nick… great points.

This particular funnel is excellent for consultants and service providers of all kinds, so long as the giveaway is on target. Because in our world, nothing happens without engagement. And with it, everything is possible.

Always love seeing your insights here.


Beat Schindler April 1, 2014 at 3:47 am

When it comes to “giving away for free”, there seems little difference between “value” and “love.”

In both instances, if you keep it all to yourself you’ll only get constipated and fat. If you haven’t got any, it’s hard to share. If you have enough value/love to share with others, let it be known – flaunt it.

Maybe what stops people from giving it away for free, is the fear there will be none left after that. And if you really believe that, then hello writer’s block and company.

Ken April 1, 2014 at 2:55 pm

Great info. I have been working on that in my business as well. It’s the new way of doing business.
I started a book before Christmas and although I have not finished the book I have been using the material for video and blog posts.


Kevin April 1, 2014 at 7:15 pm

Hi Ken… you gotta finish that book, man!

Chances are you’re overthinking it like I was.

Here’s the solution…

Scott Branden April 8, 2014 at 9:17 pm

Great stuff Kevin, thanks.

I’m writing my first book this year about my art and design work, and I was considering giving it away as PDF so its great to read about this idea and gain some confidence in doing this.

As a “welcome mat” my book will introduce people interested in my thing, so perhaps giving it away as a PDF will work, but they will be able to buy the hard cover and there will be a one off hand crafted metal cased version too, but that one will be stupidly expensive! :D

Again, my thanks.

Kind regards

Sean Mysel April 14, 2014 at 4:09 pm


Nicely done with this article! I convinced my client to use a very, very valuable asset to give away free hitting advice for baseball/softball players. We used a former MLB All-Star to film 5 videos in an autoresponder on basic hitting techniques.

In less than two months their sales went up 91% and their database gained 447 new email addresses… all watching the videos and then returning to check out gear.

Thanks boss!

Isaiah Paradis April 18, 2014 at 8:52 pm

Great article!

Have a question, though. Do FREE books/downloads convert better than just FREE updates?

If I were to give away an ebook that says, “The 5 Steps To Find Your Passion”, would that convert better than:

“Get Free Updates and learn how to:
-Stop Procrastinating and Start Taking Action
-End Self-Sabotage
-Create ‘Massive Momentum’ In your life


Just wondering what your thoughts are on this!


Kevin April 21, 2014 at 4:11 pm

Hello Isaiah… good question. Yes, a free offer that solves problem immediately (“finding passion” is too vague) will get you much more action than a promise that your blog content will deliver on several promises over time.

Clarity and immediacy are the key.


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